Washington, DC – The recent weeks have been marked by extraordinary tensions and deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians, even in comparison to the volatile nature of Israel’s decades-long occupation of the Palestinian territories.
However, when US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel this week, all he did was reiterate Washington’s previous positions on the conflict: a call for calm, an “ironclad” commitment to Israel, and rhetorical support for the two-state solution
On Monday, during a joint news conference in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, nearly all of Blinken’s remarks were based, at times completely, on previous statements made by the State Department.
According to George Bisharat, a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, the US administration maintains unwavering support for the Israeli government while viewing occasional outbreaks of violence in Israel-Palestine as “inconveniences to be managed.”
Let’s be honest, from the perspective of the United States: Bisharat stated to Al Jazeera that “they don’t give a damn about the lives of Palestinians.”
“They only care to the extent that these flare-ups interfere with what the United States perceives as its strategic interests in the region, which have nothing to do with human rights—of anyone, not just the Palestinians,” the statement reads.
Blinken’s visit comes after Israeli forces killed ten Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in one of the deadliest days in recent memory and a Palestinian gunman killed seven Israelis on Friday in occupied East Jerusalem.
Annelle Sheline, a research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a think tank based in the United States, stated that despite the rising tensions, the US administration is unlikely to alter course soon.
Sheline stated to Al Jazeera, “The policy of the Biden administration towards the Middle East in general, and Israel specifically, is based on maintaining the status quo, and not acknowledging the ways in which the status quo is shifting under their feet.”
She continued, “It is long overdue for a new approach, but I don’t think we’re likely to see one.”
“No one in the administration has indicated that they are interested in exerting pressure on Israel, and I haven’t seen any indication of that.” They probably worry about how that looks.
While Biden’s administration has pushed to increase US support for Israel, which major rights groups have accused of imposing a system of apartheid on Palestinians, despite Biden’s promise to place human rights at the center of his foreign policy when he took office.
Each year, the United States provides Israel with $3.8 billion in military assistance, and Biden increased that amount by $1 billion.
Experts have noted that criticizing Israel still carries a significant political cost in the United States, and President Joe Biden has emphasized his own self-proclaimed Zionist ideology.
Israel-Palestine, on the other hand, is far from Biden’s top priority in the midst of the Ukraine war, intensifying US competition with China, and a busy domestic agenda. This, according to Bisharat, reinforces Washington’s perception that the current crisis is minor and manageable.
Bisharat agreed with Sheline when he said that US officials who talk about the possibility of a two-state solution only serve to treat the current situation of indefinite Israeli occupation as if it were only temporary.
He stated, “It’s a distraction from people appreciating the reality that we have been stuck in this rut of continuing, ongoing settler colonialism in the West Bank — and all of the apartheid measures that are necessitated by it.” He referred to the West Bank as the subject of the controversy.
No public criticism of Israel
Like other officials in the Biden administration, Blinken has been reluctant to speak out against Israel.
On Monday, the top US diplomat did not change his mind about that. He praised the US-Israel alliance and Washington’s efforts to strengthen Israel’s normalization deals with Arab states and further “integrate” Israel into the Middle East.
Blinken warned against actions that would be detrimental to Israel’s long-term security and its long-term identity as a Jewish and democratic state and go against the “vision” of the two-state solution.
In addition, when asked about the possible punitive measures, such as deportations and home demolitions, that Netanyahu’s government is considering imposing on the families of Palestinians who carry out attacks against Israelis, he failed to provide a clear response.
There’s no denying that this is a very trying time. In recent days, we have witnessed horrific terrorist attacks. Before heading to Jerusalem on Monday, Blinken said, “We’ve seen over many months rising violence that is affecting so many.”
He paid tribute to the seven Israelis killed by the Palestinian gunman last week during the news conference with Netanyahu.
During fights with Palestinians in Hebron, which is in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Israeli forces take up positions.
However, Blinken did not mention the at least 35 Palestinians, eight of whom were children, who were killed by Israel this month, nor did he criticize Israeli settlements or mention Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, a US citizen who was shot and killed by Israeli forces last year.
Al Jazeera inquired of the US Department of State whether Blinken discussed Abu Akleh’s situation with Israeli officials on Monday.
Many Palestinian observers believe that Blinken’s ongoing trip will not alter the US’s unwavering support for Israel after decades. On Tuesday, the highest-ranking US diplomat is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
Senior analyst Yara Hawari of the Palestinian think tank Al-Shabaka policy network deemed Blinken’s trip to the region “insignificant.”
In an email to Al Jazeera, Hawari stated, “Indeed, his visit so far has been textbook”: “he reiterated the US’s unwavering support of the Israeli apartheid regime and praised the so-called special US-Israeli relationship.”
“And let’s be clear, this is not just a diplomatic support; it also provides bilateral aid and military assistance worth billions of dollars annually.”
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA